Wales is gearing up to pay a heartfelt tribute to the iconic Alun Wyn Jones, who holds the world record for international caps, through a momentous match against the Barbarians on November 4. Jones, a titan of the rugby world, achieved an astonishing feat of 158 Wales caps and participated in 12 British and Irish Lions Test matches. His retirement from international rugby this May marked the end of an era.
The 37-year-old lock, celebrated not just for his exceptional skill but also for his leadership on and off the field, will make a remarkable appearance for the Barbarians team. This special side is under the guidance of two renowned coaches – former England boss Eddie Jones and New Zealand’s post-World Cup head coach Scott Robertson. The upcoming clash at the Principality Stadium promises to be a memorable moment for fans and players alike.
The timing of this tribute game also holds significance, as it serves as a homecoming for Wales’ national squad following their World Cup journey in France. Warren Gatland, a respected figure in Welsh rugby, leads this team. Speaking on the occasion, Gatland expressed his admiration for Alun Wyn Jones, a player whose name has adorned countless teamsheets.
In a joint statement from the Welsh Rugby Union and the Barbarians, Robertson shared his anticipation for this unique event. He said, “Alun Wyn will have been the first name on many teamsheets for many years…I am not only looking forward to meeting him and coaching him, but also watching him in his final dance with a passionate crowd.”
Alun Wyn Jones’s legacy is rich and enduring. He captained Wales in 48 matches, leaving an indelible mark on the team. Notably, he is among the elite group of post-war Wales players who have clinched three Five or Six Nations Grand Slams, solidifying his status as a true rugby luminary.
The forthcoming clash between Wales and the Barbarians is more than just a match – it’s a celebration of a remarkable career, a tribute to an exceptional leader, and a chance for fans to witness history on the rugby field.